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  • Writer's pictureThe Katig Collective


Isinay [inn] is a Central Cordilleran language spoken in the municipalities of Aritao, Bambang, and Dupax del Sur in Nueva Vizcaya. With only 5,360 native speakers left in 2010, the language is classified as threatened (EGIDS 6b) in Ethnologue (Eberhard et al., 2022). A study that assessed the levels of endangerment of the three dialects reported that the majority of the population in Dupax del Sur still uses the language, while speakers in Aritao are few in number and mostly belong to the grandparent generation (Cruz, 2010).

Revitalization activities

With the majority of children barely able to speak the language (Castro, 2013) and a large part of the Isinay community shifting to Tagalog [tgl] and/or Ilocano [ilo] (Cruz, 2010), the task of sparking interest to continue learning and speaking the language is proven to be challenging. Nevertheless, efforts to revitalize Isinay and involve the younger generation have been spearheaded by local communities. Aside from existing plans in the three municipalities to create different dictionaries and learning materials for distribution (Cruz, 2010; Castro, 2015), Isinay organizations were also formed to take steps in preserving and revitalizing their language and culture. Two of these are Bona’ si Isinai Dopaj (‘from the Isinai Tribe of Dupax’) and Isinai Federation of Nueva Vizcaya (Cruz, 2010). Local summer schools were also established, although these focus more on cultural heritage education (Zubiri, 2019 as cited in Eberhard et al., 2022).

Works about Isinay

Several scholars have already published works that focus on Isinay. Almost 70 years after Conant (1915) looked into Isinay’s grammar, Constantino (1982) compiled texts and translations, while Himes (1990) examined the phonological derivation of Isinay from Proto-Central Cordilleran. Wordlists of the Aritao (SIL International, 1966/2018; 1970) and Dupax del Sur (Wimbish, 1984) dialects are posted online as drafts that have not undergone peer review but are made available to researchers and the language community. More recent studies on the language are Perlawan’s (2015) grammatical sketch of Isinay Dupax, and Reid and Salvador-Amores’ (2016) orthography guide.


Castro, C. (2013). Let the Isinay forest sing again: An Isinay word-hunter's sutsur [Workshop handout]. Revitalizing Indigenous Languages: Using Indigenous Languages as Medium of Instruction.

Conant, C. E. (1915). Grammatical notes on the Isinai language (Philippines). Journal of the American Oriental Society, 35, 289–292.

Constantino, E. (1982). Isinay texts and translations. Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa.

Cruz, C. M. (2010). The revitalization challenge for small languages: The case of Isinai [Conference paper]. 1st Philippine Conference-Workshop on Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education.

Eberhard, D. M., Simons, G. F., & Fennig, C. D. (Eds.). (2022). Isinay. Ethnologue: Languages of the world (25th Ed.).

Himes, R. (1990). An algorithm for the phonological derivation of Isinai from Proto-Central Cordilleran. Philippine Journal of Linguistics., 21 (2), 1–13.,%20VOL%2021%20No%202.pdf

Perlawan, S.E. (2015). Grammatical sketch of Isinay Dupax. [Unpublished thesis]. University of the Philippines Diliman.

Reid, L. A., & Salvador-Amores, A. V. (2016). Guide to Isinay orthography. Cordillera Studies Center, University of the Philippines Baguio.

Salvador-Amores, A. V. (2015). Tracing local history through object biography: The case of the Isinay Uwes Pinutuan (Ikat blanket). Journal of History, 61(1), 97–122.

SIL International (1966/2018). Isinai (Aritao) wordlist [Draft].

SIL International. (1970). Isinai - Aritao, Nueva Ecija, 1970 wordlist [Draft].

Wimbish, J. S. (1984). Isinai, Dupax del Sur, 1966 wordlist [Draft]. SIL International.

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